I pity the bartender that sells both Koruna and Corona, but after a glass or two of this top-notch absinthe, I expect the drinker won’t have much of a problem making his requests known.
Koruna, a “bohemian absinth” — using the alternate spelling — from the Czech Republic, makes its intentions well-known from the label, which bears a fierce gargoyle and a 146-proof notice staring out at you. Immediately you’ll notice two things about Koruna: It’s very pale in color, a light greenish-yellow, lighter even than yellow Chartreuse, and it has a good layer of solid sediment at the bottom of the bottle. That sediment is some of the wormwood and herbs used in the preparation of the spirit, and while it doesn’t likely do much for the flavor, it really gives this absinthe a unique look. It’s a gimmick, for sure, but as gimmicks go (and these days, every new spirit has one) it’s not a bad one.
Koruna (the name comes from the term for Czech currency) is made with all-natural ingredients and no artificial colors. The spirit base is distilled, surprisingly, from molasses — which I guess technically makes this a sort of flavored rum.
Sure enough, Koruna is rum-sweet (and quite pleasant), both straight (only try that once, seriously) and in the traditional preparation with sugar and cold water. The herbal character here is very sedate compared to most absinthes, with a comparably mild licorice note, backed by some slightly bitter orange peel character. For something with herbs in the bottle and 73% alcohol, the easygoing nature came as a bit of a surprise.
One other note: It’s not a blanche absinthe (and though it’s light, it’s not totally transparent) either. In fact, in one way it doesn’t behave like absinthe at all: Koruna does not louche, and with water added it looks a lot like a glass of sauvignon blanc. (I believe this is because of the way the herbs are utilized in large pieces instead of being mashed during the production process, so particles do not suspend in the liquid after water is added.) Whether that detracts from the absinthe “experience” is a question better left to the individual, but I found it a little surprising and disconcerting. Either way, considering the alcohol content and smoothness of this absinthe, tread with caution.
A- / $79